Skip to main content

Full text of "A history of Persia"

See other formats

LXV            ARCHITECTURE AND ART           289
added to the interest of the lustre tile is the fact that it
represents a lost art. It is known indeed that the soft
paste was covered with an opaque glaze, generally white
or blue, and then baked. As a second process alloys of
gold^ silver, copper and other metals were painted, and
the tile was baked again. These alloys produced colours
ranging from gold to ruby red and from turquoise blue
to brown ; and no experiments have succeeded in success-
fully imitating the superb beauty of the Persian ceramics.
The finest specimen of lustre in my possession consists
of a tile measuring 24 inches by 18^ inches. The ground
is brown and on it are sapphire blue letters an inch wide,
standing up half an inch in relief and with turquoise blue
conventional leaves. Unfortunately, although many large
fragments of these tiles were brought to me, it was im-
possible to fit them together into a complete specimen,
but even in its imperfect condition its beauty is great.
The tiles without lustre. .wiiich were manufactured
under the Timurids, and again under the Safavis, are also
very beautiful. Every colour* is used, but the scroll-work
is so artistic and the mixture of the colours so perfect
that an effect is produced of'dsep richness, which is
enhanced when the tiles are seen" on some stately quad-
rangle or portico, with the cloudless blue of the Persian
sky as a background. Here again it is very difficult to
trace the artistic influences at wofk in the production of
the tiles ; but there is no doubt that Chinese art, which
was introduced by the Mongols, powerfully affected the
impressionable Persian in tile-making as it did also in
painting, although Persian art never lost its marked
individuality in colour, shape and design.
Pottery.—Not only in tiles, but in pottery also, the
Persian artists achieved great beauty of shape, design and
colour. Here, too, Chinese influence may be observed,
and it is interesting to learn from Chardin that the Dutch
sold " the porcelain of Meshed and Kerman " to customers
*in Europe, pretending that it came from China. Perhaps
„ the finest Persian pottery is the imitation Celadon ware,
in which Chinese designs are copied, but associated with
Persian characteristics. The Persian ware, which is white
VOL. II                                                                                      U